Arkansas worked two hours inside Walker Pavilion on Friday in what head coach Bobby Petrino termed a game-week Tuesday workout. The Hogs are scaling up for a major scrimmage Saturday morning. It's closed to the public and media.
Defensive end Jake Bequette returned to practice after missing almost one week because of a slight concussion. However, the Hogs may have lost another end when Antwain Robinson went down with an injury that looked like to his knee. Safety/Jack Walner Leandre also exited practice early with an unspecified injury.
Petrino said it was "good to get Bequette back. We had been missing him on defense." The head coach said trainers are always cautious with concussions and noted Bequette would be held out of Friday's afternoon workout as an extra precaution. He said, "We'll just take it slow with Jake."
Petrino was pleased with Friday's early workout.
"I liked the way we came out to practice," he said. "We were fired up. I saw some groups take a leadership role. We've got to play smarter and stay off the ground. We had some players trying to show effort and please their coaches and that was good, but we don't want pileups.
"I thought we got a lot accomplished. It was what a normal Tuesday practice will be during game week. We need to get used to what that tempo will be on a Tuesday."
As far as the scrimmage Saturday, Petrino was asked if it will be important for freshman evaluation in the depth chart?
"We want to see how we'll execute in a little more game-like setting," he said. "It's important for all of them. We want to see if our players can find the huddle and know their assignments without their coach being right there with them.
"The freshmen, yes, it's big. We are looking at a lot of them in competitive situations. I'm impressed with the group. They have a lot of confidence and they know football. We are just trying to see which ones fit and what they can do."
Khiry Battle has impressed the head coach, especially his work "in a hitting drill where he just kept cutting in line and getting back out there. He likes to hit and we are trying to get him ready." Battle hasn't grasped all of the playbook. He blitzed Friday morning when he had tight end coverage and quarterback Casey Dick picked up for an easy TD bomb to D. J. Williams.
Petrino likes what he's seen of freshman quarterback Tyler Wilson.
"He had a very good scrimmage and was impressive in the way he distributed the ball Wednesday," Petrino said. "As far as Nathan Dick, he knows the offense, but he has not been as accurate this fall as he was in the spring. Alex Mortensen has been good in the way he's moved the team when he's been in scrimmages, too."
Petrino continues to talk up the offensive line.
"The first group we are happy with," he said. "They have come together and playing with some confidence. We have rotated Wade Grayson and Mitch Petrus at one guard. Petrus played better in the scrimmage Wednesday and we'll keep that up.
"As far as the second line, we could be doing a little better. We might be in a situation where we have about eight that are ready and we move those guys around if we needed to substitute. Depth in the offensive line, usually you can go with about eight."
There appears to be a bigger rotation at wide receiver where eight, nine and sometimes 10 get snaps with the first two units. London Crawford, the leader of that group, said the youngsters are getting better and better.
"They thought they were ready for college football when we first started out and it probably caught them a little off guard, but you see them starting to get it now," Crawford said. "I remember when I was there age. You really can't ever be prepared for what it will be like. But they are good and they are working hard. They are getting better.
"We all realize that we can be a special group. I think even Coach (Paul) Petrino is getting excited now. He saw that we can be good and he's just pushed us even harder. That's what is exciting for us, to see what he thinks we can be.
"We've got so much better in every area, catching it and running routes. It's coming faster and faster and we like it. I think this time last year, we'd probably be going to the swimming pool or something. Instead, we just had another faster and faster practice, just really getting better."
Crawford said he's not having any more trouble with cramping because of a more aggressive process of consuming water and fluids.
"Dinner, it's water, water and more water," he said. "No more soft drinks, no more anything other than water and gatorade. I just have to put a lot of water in my body. I've learned how to do it, how to force more and more fluids down. I just can't believe how much water it takes to keep my body hydrated. But I am not having the cramps anymore like I had even in the spring in cool weather."
Friday morning grid update, 8/15
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